In this monthly segment, we attempt to answer the question, “Who should we take to South Africa?” Rather than taking the standard approach (doing our best to guess who Bob will take to South Africa), we focus on who we think Bradley should take.
Despite an empty international schedule and the termination of the MLS season since the last edition of Bradley’s Babes, there have been a number of developments–both positive and negative–on the National Team front. Jay DeMerit and Maurice Edu have finally recovered from their injuries. DeMerit has started to see action again and Edu is regaining his fitness with the reserves. Unfortunately, Jermaine Jones‘ hopes to make the World Cup roster are looking increasingly bleak with his never-ending string of set-backs. Stuart Holden has been offered a hefty contract by MLS–10x his previous salary, which I believe would be somewhere between 300-350k–but he is opting to weigh his options in Europe. Most recently, Blackburn is being thrown around as a possibility. It is great to see MLS offering competitive wages, but I’d still like to see Holden play top-flight European soccer if the opportunity presents itself. Although Landon Donovan is and always will be a lock for this roster, it’s worth noting that he will be playing for Everton until the start of the next MLS season. On the return-to-form front, Marcus Hahnemann is now starting for Wolves and posting clean sheets. And the best story of the past month, DaMarcus Beasley, is back to scoring goals, getting assists, and looking more and more like the player who used to impress at PSV. If he can keep it up, he’s got a great shot to hold down a spot in the World Cup roster.
Now that we’re all caught up on the news, let’s take a look at our current field of 23:
Tim Howard – It’s scary to think how many goals Everton would allow without Tim in goal. At least he’ll have plenty of practice going into 2010–that’s the advantage of having no defense in front of you.
Brad Guzan – No change here…yet.
Marcus Hahnemann – His recent form only solidifies his position on this roster. If he continues to start and post clean-sheets, it is not out of the question that he could move one spot up the pecking order.
FRINGE – Kasey Keller, Troy Perkins. Keller is still on here as a worst-case-scenario back-up. He’s made it clear that he won’t come along as a #3, but if something horrible happens (injury to Howard), we should consider taking him along. If Hahnemann keeps up his progress and he agrees to come along as a third-stringer, Troy Perkins should drop out of this race pretty quickly.
Carlos Bocanegra – Still a lock, even though it sounds like he’s currently out of favor at Rennes.
Jonathan Spector – If he doesn’t get a look at left back before the World Cup, I might lose my mind.
Jay DeMerit – He has finally recovered from the eye injury, which just about puts him in the “lock” category.
Steve Cherundolo – Consistent as ever.
Chad Marshall – With Onyewu hurt, still an easy choice for this roster.
Jimmy Conrad – I’m really skeptical that he will get the look he deserves. Kind of silly considering he has been one of the most consistently great defenders in MLS history.
Edgar Castillo – The other guy who needs to get a good look at left back. I’m starting worry that Bradley is comfortable settling on Bornstein as our World Cup starter.
Clarence Goodson – As I stated in the last Bradley’s Babes, since Bocanegra and Spector can both play left back, and I’m not a big fan of Bornstein or Pearce, I’ll use the final spot on another center back.
FRINGE – Jonathan Bornstein, Heath Pearce. Since the MLS season is over and the Nats haven’t played since Denmark, there has been no opportunity to move up (or down) the pecking order for these guys.
Landon Donovan – Glad to see him moving to Everton for a couple months. Wish it could last longer, but it’s better than nothing.
Clint Dempsey – He has enjoyed some great form over the past month. There always seems to be this point in Dempsey’s season where he looks like one of the best [non-superstar] midfielders in the EPL.
Michael Bradley – Still no doubt here.
Jose Francisco Torres – Hopefully he’ll get more looks during our upcoming friendlies. He certainly deserves it.
Benny Feilhaber – Does well as a substitute for the Nats. I’m becoming increasingly hopeful that he can show well as a starter, too.
Stuart Holden – He probably enjoyed the biggest (positive) swing in stock of any American in 2009. It has led to a great contract offer from MLS and a possible move to the EPL. It has also solidified his position on this roster.
Robbie Rogers – Still one of our few good natural wingers.
Maurice Edu – Finally! He’s gotten some minutes for Rangers’ reserves and hopefully will see first-team minutes soon.
DaMarcus Beasley – Probably premature. Probably going to make me regret this in a month from now. But if he truly is the Beasley of old, there’s no doubt he’ll be coming to South Africa
FRINGE – Jermaine Jones, Ricardo Clark. Jermaine Jones continues to suffer setbacks in his recovery, making his participation in the World Cup seem more and more unlikely. That said, he’s no doubt a lock if healthy. (One side note: it’s a little silly that this is considered a topic for debate. He’s a best-eleven quality midfielder in one of Europe’s top leagues. The real issue is that not many people watch the Bundesliga. I get the feeling if we were talking about someone like Stewart Downing, the conversation would be very different.) Ricardo Clark is still hanging around the fringe. His skill-set seems a little redundant in this roster, but if Edu fails to find his form of 2008, DaMarcus Beasley falls short of his PSV form, or Jermaine Jones never recovers from his fracture, Clark is ready to swoop in.
Jozy Altidore – Struggling to score goals for Hull (not that anyone there is finding it easy). Still a lock.
Brian Ching – I disagree with the assertion that we need a target forward in our starting line-up. Regardless, I think Ching is still the best we’ve got. You hate his woeful finishing, but he does everything else pretty well.
Robbie Findley – The striker carousel continues to revolve. Two months ago, it was Kenny Cooper. Cooper fell out of favor at 1860 and suffered an injury. Last month it was Eddie Johnson. He still can’t seem to find playing time at Fulham (and they’ve made it known that they’d like to offload him during the winter transfer window). This month we’re going to take a shot on Robbie Findley. Since his season is over, at least we know he can’t play his way out of this lineup by the January edition of Bradley’s Babes…
FRINGE – Conor Casey, Kenny Cooper, Jeff Cunningham, Eddie Johnson. I’m about ready to take Casey off this list. The only way he can make it into this roster would be at the expense of Brian Ching. No way am I taking both of those guys. The odds are stacked against Kenny Cooper right now. He needs to recover from injury; he needs to find his form; and he needs to secure consistent playing time for his club. He’s hanging on by a thread. Eddie Johnson needs to move to a club that will play him. Jeff Cunningham is next on the carousel. His form is better than Findley’s, but Robbie has all the upside.
Now that we’ve set our roster, let’s take a look at our prefered line-up:
————————Jozy Altidore———-Clint Dempsey——————
Jose Francisco Torres————————————Landon Donovan
Jonathan Spector——————————————Steve Cherundolo
———————-Carlos Bocanegra——–Jay DeMerit——————–
Despite some changes to our field of 23, our starting lineup has remained the same. Most at risk? Jose Francisco Torres and Benny Feilhaber. Torres could soon be displaced by DaMarcus Beasley. Feilhaber could be displaced by Edu. Or, perhaps, Beasley could take Torres’ spot and and Torres could take Benny’s. While this group of eleven is safe (…for now!) it will be interesting to see what our starting eleven looks like in a month or two from now. The National Team picture has been continually muddied for the past few months–we hope some clarity will emerge as the World Cup nears.
Filed under: Bradley's Babes: 23 for 2010 |